2011 Record: (2-10, 1-7 in ACC)
Head Coach: Randy Edsall (76-80 All-Time, 2-10 at Maryland)
Last Bowl Game: 2010 Military Bowl (beat East Carolina 51-20)
Must Win: 9/01 vs William & Mary
Out of Conference: 9/8 at Temple, 9/15 vs UConn, 9/22 at WVU
Swing Games: 10/6 vs Wake Forest, 10/13 at Virginia, 10/27 at BC
Stats to Cheer: +0.33 turnover margin (4th in ACC, 36th in Natoin); gained 27 turnovers (2nd in ACC, 28th in Nation)
Stats to Fear: converted 35.63% of third downs (11th in ACC, 102nd in Nation); converted on just 69.57% of red zone trips (12th in ACC, 113th in Nation) with a 45.65% TD ratio (last in ACC, 119th in Nation)
Phil Steele's Returning Starters: (Offense: 6; Defense: 9; Specialists: 2)
Key Defensive Returnees: DT Joe Vellano (94 tackles, 2.5 sacks), LB Demetrius Hartsfield (108 tackles), LB Kenny Tate (35 tackles, 2 INTs in 4 games), FS Eric Franklin (106 tackles), LB Darin Drakeford (68 tackles)
Key Offensive Returnees: QB CJ Brown (7 TD, 6 INT, 574 yds rushing, 5 rushing TD), WR Kevin Dorsey (45 rec), TE Matt Furstenburg (31 rec)
When Maryland made the decision to upgrade Ralph Friedgan after he went 9-4 I'm not sure they had a 2-10 season in mind. Randy Edsall has responded to the two win season by replacing OC Gary Crowton and DC Todd Bradford after just one year. They have been replaced with the controversial Mike Locksley at OC and Brian Stewart (Houston DC from 2010-2011) at DC. Edsall has a lot of work to do both on the field and off the field as he has drawn a lot of negative feelings from Terps fans and college football fans in general by the way he has handled some of the transfers.
A big question is how long will it take Edsall to get this turned back around and does Edsall have enough time to do that? Edsall has five years left on his contract at $2 million a year. Some fans have even taken to opening a website with the sole purpose of taking donations to buy out Randy Edsall but I would bet the administration isn't willing to spend money on a buyout this early in the contract.
QB CJ Brown will get the football from the outset this year. He showed some running skills against Georgia Tech early in the season last year and then showed that he could also throw it against Clemson despite the Terps losing both of those games. Brown has talent but it remains to be seen if Mike Locksley's offense will be the right fit him. He was very dangerous running the football (7.27 ypc, 5 TD) but his passing numbers were far from good (49% completion ratio, TD:INT ratio of 7:6). Brown is going to be a big key for this team because he is also their returning leading rusher.
If there is one thing that Edsall did well last year it was recruit as he landed two Scout.com top 100 prospects. Edsall will likely need some good production out of one of those big recruits, WR Stefon Diggs, if the offense is to take a big step forward.
Maryland will be changing their defense as they move to a 3-4. Last year, Maryland went from giving up 22.2 ppg to 34.3. They also gave up over 100 yards per game more in 2011 than they did in 2010. Improvement should happen for the Terps this year despite changing schemes, it would be tough not to see improvement based on those numbers. Another key will be injuries. Last year, Kenny Tate injured his knee after only four games. This spring, Joe Vellano hurt his foot and missed time. Both of those players have all-conference talent and getting them healthy and back in the mix is key for the Terps to improve on defense.
Maryland doesn't have a particularly difficult schedule but if they play like they did last year it's going to seem like it. Out of conference they have some loseable games with UConn and Temple and also have a date at West Virginia. The key to the season will be the early games with Temple and UConn and then the back-to-back ACC games to open the conference slate against Wake Forest and at Virginia. Despite losing a lot of talent due to Edsall's "my way or the highway" approach, this team still has talent but they will have to get off to a good start because the tough part of the schedule is at the end of the year. It would be almost impossible for the Terps not to improve in 2012 but will they improve enough?
2012 Prediction: 4-8
Previous 2012 Previews:
Big 12: Kansas